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Scope Policy


1.1 Audience

The targeted user group for the Digital Library is anyone who undertakes research or seeks information in the field of forced migration - that is, students, academics, research institute staff, practitioners, librarians, policy makers, members of the media, information providers, and forced migrants themselves. In addition, the Digital Library will represent a useful source of information for those who may not have ready access to print collections and information centres.

1.2 Definition of Forced Migration

There is much debate about the nature of forced migration. The purpose of having a working definition is simply to provide users with a reasonable understanding of the subject areas they can expect to be covered by this resource.

The Digital Library uses the same definition as the one promoted by the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM). That is, forced migration is "a general term that refers to the movements of refugees and internally displaced people (people displaced by conflicts) as well as people displaced by natural or environmental disasters, chemical or nuclear disasters, famine, or development projects."

1.3 Subject Coverage

In the context of the working definition, the subject areas covered by the Digital Library include:

  • Causes of flight
  • Conditions in countries of origin (e.g., human rights violations, early warning, prevention, etc.)
  • Responses to forced migration situations (e.g., emergency assistance, relief programmes, legal protection/asylum, resettlement, international humanitarian law, compensation, etc.)
  • Experiences of forced migrants (e.g., adaptation, health, psychosocial issues, racism, etc.)
  • Special groups (e.g., gender issues, children, indigenous peoples, etc.)
  • Repatriation/return (e.g., post-war reconstruction, development/livelihood programmes, etc.)
  • Impact/consequences of forced migration (e.g., environmental, economic, social, etc.)
  • Organizations & actors (e.g., IGOs, NGOs, governments, aid workers, agents of persecution, etc.)

1.4 Geographic Coverage

There are no geographic limitations.

1.5 Language Coverage

There are no language limitations.


The scope and audience of the Digital Library, as defined above are the most important factors to be considered when selecting documents. At the same time, since selection is undertaken by institutional contributors, it will reflect their specific subject expertise in the field of forced migration. Still, several general rules of thumb are applicable to the selection process regardless of subject area:

First, consider the nature of a digital library:

  • Documents are digitized. Deciding to scan a document inserts an extra level of assessment into the selection process: What is the value to the user of including a particular title - is it especially noteworthy, authoritative, substantive? Does it include original thinking or does it merely echo what has been reported elsewhere? The reputation of the author, the length of the document, and the currency of the topic addressed therefore may factor in more highly in the selection hierarchy.
  • Digital collections tend to be smaller and more discrete. Building a balanced collection therefore is particularly important; different perspectives from different types of authors/publishers should be reflected (i.e., governments vs. NGOs, practitioners vs. academics, etc.), different geographic regions should be represented, and so forth.

Next, past experience has demonstrated that the following should usually not be included:

  • items that look published (e.g., glossy reports, photocopies of journal articles, etc.);
  • titles that you know have been published or that indicate they will be published (e.g., conference papers that re-appear as journal articles or chapters in books, etc.);
  • papers that are marked as "draft" copies or that state they are "not for citation";
  • documents containing sensitive details, such as the names of asylum-seekers, or other information that identifies individuals, such as conference participants’ lists;
  • documents that contain incitements to violence or that promote terrorist activities;
  • leaflets, brochures, press releases, or other ephemeral or purely descriptive materials;
  • items with very poor print quality, significant spelling errors, or deficient language usage.
Last updated Mar 24, 2011